Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Antonio Nuño Gonzáles was born in a small town by the name of San José de Gracia, Jalisco, México; his father worked in agriculture, but he did not own any land; he and his brothers enlisted in the bracero program; he even labored in the fields of California with his eldest brother; Antonio worked with the program on and off from 1958 to 1963; as a bracero, he completed five contracts, picking cotton, strawberries and tomatoes; he later immigrated to the United States, and in 1970 he married; in 1994, he became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Gonzáles talks about the bracero program as a means to achieving a better life for himself and his family, which is why he decided to enlist; to begin the process, he traveled to Empalme, Sonora, México, where he picked cotton to get the necessary papers; as part of the contracting process, he underwent medical exams, which he describes as rude, and they were much more thorough in Mexicali, Baja California, México; one of his brothers did not pass the exams because of his lungs, but he did labor in the fields of California with his eldest brother; Antonio worked with the program on and off from 1958 to 1963; as a bracero, he completed five contracts, picking cotton, strawberries and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions, remittances, contract lengths, correspondence, friendships and recreational activities, including trips into town; while working in Oxnard, California, with his brother, they received passes to go to Tijuana, Baja California, México; Mexican officials visited the camp often; he also recalls that taking a shower was difficult, because there was no privacy; they were open to accommodate twenty to thirty men at a time; although many complained about bad food, in his opinion, it was not bad, they just did not know and had never had certain kinds of food before; he comments that through the program, his life absolutely changed 100 percent, for the better; later, he immigrated to the United States, and in 1970 he married; he is particularly proud of becoming a US citizen in 1994.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Antonio Nuño Gonzáles by Romelia Richmond, 2008, "Interview no. 1416," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.